By Choo Sing Chye
Sad to say there are many who will go to great lengths to distort history just for the sake of painting the non-Malays as unpatriotic. They will peddle their phony perceptions that the non-Malays did not play a significant role in the formative years of pre and post Merdeka history.
And for this reason, they postulate that the non-Malays should not be given any fairness pledged in the Malaysian Constitution. This belief is, unfortunately, still prevalent in the mind-set of Umno’s hard right-wingers.
A great part of my growing up was influenced by a man who was a former soldier in the British Army. His exploits still ring dear in my heart.
I remember quite well the many exploits he had recounted. One that stands out particularly well is this: On one routine patrol, his unit was ambushed by the communists. His British officer had his arm shot clean off.
For a moment, all hell broke loose, but he, without fear, surged forward to engage the communists with his gun blazing. After a fierce battle, the communists withdrew. For this brave act, he was nicknamed “Cina Gila” (mad Chinese) by the British officers, This nickname stuck to him affectionately throughout his career as a soldier.
On many occasions he talked about the Indian, Sikh, Kenyan, Fijian, Chinese, Burmese, Gurkha, New Zealander and Australian soldiers, but nothing about the Malays.
My little curious mind begun to wonder why the Malays were not fighting the communists. Why were they not as patriotic as he and his cohorts?
I was having this very state of mind that Gerakan Pembela Ummah chairman Ismail Mina Ahmad is having today when he said the Malays were doing all the fighting for the last few hundred years – but in the reverse order. Perhaps Ismail Mina Ahmad feels comfortable and proud for having such beliefs, but not me.
I felt uncomfortable with this doubt and so I built up some courage to ask the soldier this daunting question. “Uncle, why the Malays were not fighting the communists? Why?”
His answer was that the Malays were as brave as the others were. He omitted the Malays because there were no Malays in his unit as they were attached to other units.
This was a huge relief to an 11-year-old boy who had to bear the pain of believing my neighbour Malay saudaras had not done their share of fighting the communists.
Today, tears swell in my eyes when I think of him. He had taught me discipline, generosity, kindness and most of all, being truthful to others.
He often reminded me that the coin had two sides and that whichever side one took, one should not denigrate the other side, which one was not taking, because it had the same value as your side.
I lost contact with him over these 40 years. So, wherever you are, thank you very much, Sergeant Joseph Gee for being part of my formative years.
My sincere thanks to the Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association (MACVA) president Major (rtd) Tan Pau Son and National Patriots’ Association president Brig-Gen (rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji for being on the side of truth.
Choo Sing Chye is a FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.